” Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.” – Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
Fear in human beings mostly gyrate around the uncanny, in forgetting the familiar and in cycles of mundane sleep. It is seldom found in a totally alien entity. In ‘Blackbetty’ Marco North dexterously portrays a visceral melody of hope and despair in the tranquil setting of Saltava. Marco carefully curtails the physical presence of an external, life threatening force against the chiaroscuro of human will. Blackbetty is a tale of fear and anxiety, of love and longing, of hope and despair.
The alien force is killing everyone who is falling asleep – looking away from reality, from destruction and from vacuous existence. The only antidote is an untested drug that keeps people alive. The drug however also allows them to dream – a threat to the conscious world, to the world of order and symmetry. Like Zamyatin’s “we” and Huxley’s “Brave New World ” the dreams must go unnoticed, without a blemish of conscious manipulation. The movie opens with the speech of an isolated soul delivered wholeheartedly. The scene resembles the mad man’s speech in Andrei Tarkovsky’s ‘Nostalghia’. In Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s ‘Death of Insane’ dreams are protected as indicators of life. It is quite similar in ‘Blackbetty’ . It is neither evil nor divine. It is pure fear , transcending the domains of temporality. The viewer would almost feel uncomfortable by the silence in the movie like one does when he is watching Cuaron’s ‘Children of men’. In the opening scene of the movie, the man who appeared lonely delivers a monologue like the one delivered by Joaquin Phoenix (Arthur Fleck) in the movie ‘Joker’ about the lack of compassion in mankind. It is not a coincidence that the microphone has the word love written on it. The lack of which would make an individual feel even more alienated in the face of a mysterious outbreak. Saltava is present everywhere, the survivors resemble everyman. The desolate setting of the movie induces fear and intrigue in the mind of the viewer. Every scene in the episode appears to be shot beautifully. The songs have been placed in the right places not making them sound like additional props. The actors do a beautiful job of keeping the story together, in all it’s fear and trembling. The direction is inch perfect. Every frame tells a story. The winter feels real, almost too tempting in it’s devastating glory.
The story is about hope and unity. In terrible times, during the outbreak of a pandemic for example it is unity, trust and courage that shall seal the fate of mankind in golden letters. In Saltava everything boils down to the free will of the survivors, their individual choices, their acceptance or rejection of the untested drug, their perseverance, grit and determination. ‘Blackbetty’ is the call for the reawakening of the soul long buried in the facades of treachery. It must fly like the pilot in the final scene of the movie and like Icarus defy the limits of mankind in his fall.